Debra Norwood, an attorney, peacebuilder, certified laughter leader expert level, and certified brain health coach has gathered information from various disciplines such as positive psychology, neuroscience, therapeutic humor and laughter, mindfulness and meditation to create a self-help tool in the form of an iPhone app, as well as a series of workshops, used to foster resilience and combat anxiety. She directs the user to her favorite expert resources, authors, and personal experiences, to provide not only a quick reference guide to principles about courage and wellbeing, but to also empower the user with self-sufficiency, accountability, and a service mindset, through personal journaling.

The app is linked to a workbook and a community of other Couragekeepers to help learn from one another and to meet others who have overcome adversity and found the strength to carry on.

Studies have shown that journaling positive experiences can help the brain combat negative thoughts and their physical reactions to them. Through this App, Users experience personal growth by exploring their character strengths, optimism, understanding, ability to reinvigorate themselves, act in altruism, and show grit and empathy in order to uncover the hero within them.  By journaling these basic foundations for resilience, app users are reinforcing their own self-worth and tapping into a wealth of information on what the world needs most today—COURAGE!

For a list of resources and to meet other Couragekeepers follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Couragekeepers

As member of the Positive Psychology Association, Debra advocates the use of core strengths and the PERMA model for resilience, but only if it washed down with a generous dose of laughter! Her work with autistic Hispanic children and her trailblazing work in peace and conflict resolution through humor have allowed Debra to be the recipient of two scholarships from The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH). Debra has also studied at the Gesuntheit Institute with Patch Adams and Clown One Italy and Clown One Japan. As a result of their personal impact in her life, Debra Norwood is a strong supporter for wartime and conflict area compassionate clowns as vehicles for spreading world peace. Debra is currently working on a series of train-the trainer books to encourage teaching conflict resolution, anger management and peace building skills for youth.

Debra often sports a red nose and a bee bonnet as a humanitarian clown to keep her audiences laughing as she goes about the serious business of helping them face their challenges with grace and humor. Her transformation from a traditional lawyer to a zany advocate for her unorthodox conflict resolution ”playground” was a part of a lengthy evolution that was in part precipitated by the suicide of one of the Norwood Law firm’s clients over twenty years ago. His untimely death led Debra and her husband, Dan to create a holistic law firm grounded in positivity and humor and laughter.

Concerned about rising suicide levels among attorneys, Debra and her husband, Dan Norwood are coauthoring a book The Resilient Lawyer, Overcoming Challenges and Finding Joy in Modern Day Law Practice. One of their goals is to help attorneys link with heart health and brain health experts from around the world, and to promote stress reduction Lawyer Laughter Clubs (LLC’s) to help lawyers learn healthy ways to keep stress “under arrest”.

Through AATH, Debra linked up with brain trauma expert, Dr. Earl Henslin, and was given permission to teach the Amen Clinic Six Week Brain Health curriculum “How to make a Good Brain Great.” Since cognitive function is perhaps the one tool that every attorney cannot afford to loose, Debra’s tips to keep the mind sharp and the stress levels at bay are indispensable to help practitioners’ improve memory, stay focused and optimistic. She mentors law firms and individual attorneys in team building, trust building and stress reduction in ways that are simple, quick and fun, which help avoid hurtful habits and addictions. Her ability to create a team of experts to create a crisis management team for her clients also makes Debra an excellent and confidential ally to help professionals who are facing personal problems with ADD, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Debra’s five years of successful presentations to Decaturville High School Health Occupations Students in Tennessee, gave birth to an innovative Pilot Project called The Resilient Student: The18 Day Mindfulness Challenge, which is now successfully training hundreds of high- school students in Decatur County, Tennessee.

Debra exhorts students to care for their brains in order to combat addiction and depression. In her workshops, students learn to embrace and respect values such as forgiveness, gratitude, flexibility and kindness and therapeutic laughter. Adopting World Laughter Tour Good-Hearted Principles TM and encouraging students to journal their experiences has met with great success, and her project is now endorsed by the Laughter Arts Foundation. Laughter Lawyer USA has also created a local scholarship for high school participants.

As a Family Law attorney and Juvenile Court practitioner, and as a former volunteer for WRAP (Women’s Rape Assistance Program) in Parsons, Tennessee, Debra has experience with domestic violence and abuse. She is an advocate for unconventional models for anger management and conflict resolution, which incorporate brain health and laughter as foundation for emotional rebuilding and rehabilitation. Her dream is to transform the legal environment into one in which all Guardian ad litem’s, judges, social workers mediators and advocates practice principles of neuroscience and resilience, conflict resolution and trust building in all aspects of their cases. Debra is a part of a Transformative Law Movement wherein lawyers can become agents of peace and help create a system that is less corrosive to both the attorneys and the litigants’ emotional well being. Debra is a contributor to J.Kim Wright’s ABA endorsed book, Lawyers as Change-Makers and believes that together, lawyers, judges and the general public can become co-founders of a system that will encourage peace building and a renewed trust in the judicial process.

As a facilitator for a church based addiction recovery program, Debra also has the skills and compassion to coach those who need an extra emotional boost to overcome debilitating situations. She is a strong advocate for twelve step programs to be used in conjunction with intensive brain SPECT analysis of the individual’s brain in order to determine if an individual’s behavior is not just treated through symptoms, but by brain systems, thus reducing the stigma associated with addiction. She recommends a faith-based workbook and has also developed a coaching program with Your True Colours as co-facilitator for a program called: Couragemakers. For at-risk youth, Debra is a goodwill ambassador for the Anasazi Foundation, a non-coercive wilderness inpatient treatment program.